If I could start over again, I’d get a whole lot better at saying “thank you.” And more than just saying it, I’d want to be fully cognizant of why I’m saying it, and how I’m saying it, so that it’s not a rote response, but an accurate reflection of my appreciation.

In my life, I don’t accomplish much without the assistance of others, people who show me gentleness, honesty, unselfishness and love. Their acts of kindness are passed on to me, often so deftly that I don’t even recognize what’s happening or how my life is elevated by their involvement.

Sadly, I tend to attribute my achievements, both large and small, to my individual moxie and independent work ethic. I forget about the help others provided and, as more time passes, I rewrite history so that I’m put in the best light.

Examples of these helping hands abound: As a kid growing up in a small town in Iowa, my mom, dad, sisters and brother all protected the youngest kid (that’s me) from major harm. In their own ways, they all engaged me in their lives and handed me lessons to grow by. When appropriate – particularly from my dad and brother – these were lessons enforced by consequences that stung, but ones that paid dividends later on. I don’t recall thanking any of these people enough.

At times, I still position myself as being a savvy businessperson. “Look what I have accomplished,” I insinuate to others. Rarely do I mention the boss who picked up after my early blunders, the judge who gave me a second chance, the host of coworkers who taught me to work diligently and the friends who often showed bona fide love when my actions were unworthy.

Then there were the years I drank too much and my life became unmanageable. I hurt others. I was selfish, often to the extreme. Magically, a band of angels appeared with simple names like Frank, Kate, Larry, Jeff and Sherry, and they patiently guided me forward to a life of serenity and joy. They promised that, if I got my act together, good things would come true. Did I ever look them in the eye and say, “You were right, thank you”?

That’s only the big stuff. I’ve been blessed with a bevy of people who have always been there to smile right in my face, to laugh when I’ve lost my humor, to patiently explain how to connect (whether it’s to the internet or to the world around me).

Tomorrow is a day set aside to show appreciation to all those wonderful folks. Some are dead, some are playing elsewhere, some are still close, but all are ever-present in my heart. I wish to spend my day recognizing how my fortunate life has been shaped by the kindnesses of so many. And I’ll have a smile on my face. That’s the way they would want it.